Many people have back pain and anyone can suffer from it. Some factors can cause it and make it worse- some of the those factors are within our control, while others are not.
Things that increase your risk of pain include:
- Age- an aging back is more likely to give you pain- pain is common to first appear between 30-40 years old
- Substandard physical fitness- back pain is far more common in people who are not in good shape
- Being overweight or obese- those extra pounds can add stress to a weakened back
- Your genes- back pain may be hereditary and come from conditions like ankylosing spondylitis, which is a type of arthritis which affects the spine
- Diseases and cancers
- Work- the nature of your job can cause back pain if it involves lifting, pushing, pulling, twisting etc.- also, sitting at a desk all day can be just as harmful
- Smoking- another reason not to smoke! It deprives your body of nutrients and that nasty smoker’s cough can actually pull your back and slow down your healing process
- Race and gender- for instance, African-American woman are 2 to 3 times more likely to have slipping in the lower spine than Caucasian women
Causes of back pain include:
- Spinal disk breakdown
- Tight muscles
- Ruptured disks
- Injuries from sprains, fractures, accidents, and falls
Now that you understand your pain, let’s find out how to relieve it without the use of drugs or medical interventions like surgery.
Visit your physician. A doctor should evaluate back pain that lasts longer than a few weeks. He will access your mobility and determine what is causing the pain. The doctor may also request blood tests, an x-ray image or a magnetic resonance imagining to diagnosis the source of back pain.
Ask your doctor about taking herbal supplements for back pain. Some supplements have anti-inflammatory properties, which may assist with back pain, according to MayoClinic.com. Oral supplements, such as willow bark or devil’s claw are used for back pain. The topical herb, capsicum is also used. Take supplements as directed by your doctor.
Go to a cognitive behavioral therapist. According to MayoClinic.com, chronic back pain is often linked to stress and depression. A therapist can assist with breaking negative thought patterns that impact your ability to deal with chronic back pain. Find a therapist through the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapists.
Request acupuncture treatment. If you have low back pain, acupuncture may provide symptom relief, according to MayoClinic.com. An acupuncturist will use small needles at specific points in the body to relieve pain. Contact the American Association of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to find a local acupuncturist.
Go to a physical therapist. Licensed physical therapists can use a variety of treatment techniques, including electrical stimulation, muscle releasing and heat to relieve pain. A physical therapist can also show you at-home exercises to minimize and manage your back pain. Find a therapist through the American Physical Therapy Association.
Tips and Warnings
- Losing weight can assist in minimizing back pain. Extra weight strains the back muscles, contributing to pain, according to MayoClinic.com.
- Smoking affects oxygen levels in the tissues surrounding the spine, notes MayoClinic.com. This can contribute to back pain. If you smoke, consider discontinuing the habit.
Why would someone avoid help from the medical community to relieve back pain, you may wonder…well, according to many studies, even OTC pain killers have their nasty short term and long term side effects. Ingredients in common OTC medications can hinder your muscle growth and development- counteracting any effort you are making to get in shape; they have also been linked to cancers and other types of illness. We think that in small doses, you’d probably be ‘okay’, but when’s the last time someone with chronic back pain only wanted the pain to stop every now and then? Never.
Here’s a video on some short term side effects of a common OTC painkiller…
So, what do you do? First, identify the cause- make sure there’s not an underlying condition that’s gone undiagnosed because you think back pain is just another part of life. Then, explore alternative medicine and try out some natural anti-inflammatories like the few mentioned above. Don’t excuse the pain as being only physical, stress can manifest itself in your body and cause pain and tension in your muscles. Acupuncture and physical therapy have worked wonders for some people, and could help to ease your pain also.
Do you live with chronic back pain? How do you cope?